Paine’s “American Crisis”

Two hundred and thirty-two years ago on this day in people’s history, Thomas Paine penned the first of his “American Crisis,” essays. On December 19th, 1776, the eighteenth century enlightenment thinker began his pamphlet series with the famous words, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” Coming at a time when the American Revolution was faltering, Paine’s words were meant to boost the effort to defeat the British colonialists. General George Washington read the first essay to his troops in Trenton, New Jersey. However, as history would have it, Paine and Washington would have a falling out after “The American Crisis” author was imprisoned in France during the course of their revolution. Sensing abandonment, Paine lambasted Washington in an open letter saying, “the world will be puzzled to decide whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any.”

With another George still in office today, and another “American Crisis” it’s about time somebody came to bring the Paine!


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